5 Critical Building Blocks for Healthy Volunteer Teams

In Chris Mavity’s ebook, ‘Your Volunteers: From Come-and-See to Come-and-Serve,’ Mavity explains how church leaders can better enable, empower and equip church leaders to better enable, empower and equip our greatest ministry asset – our people.

Volunteers are our boots-on-the-ground and since churches typically have more people than money, space, or staff, volunteer operations require a solid game plan to help evolve people who ‘come-and-see’ into people who ‘come-and-serve.’

So in case you missed it, let’s the recap the five steps – recruiting, training, placing, supporting and monitoring – that will help you establish the critical building blocks for healthy volunteer operations.

RECRUIT: There are two common recruitment tactics employed in ministry – slot filling and person selection – with each approach meeting specific needs and with both recruiting strategies being necessary because not all volunteers are created equal. For roles and positions that are short-term and have less influence, filling a slot works fine. But then there are ministry positions where it’s important to select the right person with a specific skill set – such as a singer or a worship leader.

TRAIN: There are two types of training, orientation training and ongoing training, and each allows you to communicate expectations, prepare volunteers for service, and impart wisdom. Orientation training helps your volunteers understand the role, responsibilities, and expected outcomes of the assignment. Ongoing training is focused on life-skills development – helping your volunteers become a better version of themselves.

PLACE: Placement is much like completing a jigsaw puzzle. The key is looking at the placement of a volunteer the same way you’d start to assemble a jigsaw puzzle – by learning the basics about them (placing corners and edges) – and creating your puzzle’s ‘frame.’ Only then will you get a sense of who the person is and in time through observation, feedback and results, you will be able to place various inside pieces, allowing you to see and understand even more about the person.

SUPPORT: There are three categories of support: proactive, reactive, and platforming. Proactive support is anything done to support the ministry efforts of the volunteer prior to them serving. Reactive support is being available to help solve problems or issues as volunteers attempt something new. And platform support is the ultimate support wherein you assign your volunteers prominent roles for a job well done.

MONITOR: Once we’ve taken the first four steps, we have to inspect what we expect. And monitoring reveals the numbers that matter. Properly understood and utilized numbers can help you plan effectively and make better decisions. And with a church management system, you can inform, affirm, validate and challenge your assumptions about your ministry.

Think of your volunteer operations like a sports organization, seeing the people in your church as your greatest asset and scouring your pews like scouts from the bleachers in search of the right people for the right positions. The returns from your efforts will exceed the investment of time and energy – exponentially.

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In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
 
— Russ Wright
 
"While I understand the intent behind this phrase" Expound please. What do you understand to be the intent behind that phrase?
 
— Ken
 
Thank you for this article! I'm the pastor of a small church. My gifting is in teaching and we are known for aiding Christians in becoming Biblically literate. Visitor's often comment on God's presence being very real in our services. But we just don't seem to be growing. I have some soul-searching, etc. to do and this article provides some solid ground from which to proceed. Thank you again.
 
— Jonathan Schultheis
 

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